WWF-Canada:  Canada’s Rivers at Risk


Many of the world’s river flows are at risk from the impacts of producing more food, generating electricity, fuelling industry and quenching the thirst of expanding cities. Climate change further compounds these problems by introducing new threats and uncertainties.

Canada’s Rivers at Risk: Environmental Flows and Canada’s Freshwater Future assesses how these pressures are affecting environmental flows in 10 of the nation’s rivers. Overall, their status is troubling.

Regarding the Mackenzie watershed, the technical report states on page 33:

Flow in the Slave River, downstream of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, declined by 35% between 1950 and 2005, which has been attributed to the effects of the Bennett Dam along with climate change.

and on page 34:

The Northern Rivers Ecosystem Initiative concluded that global warming is the greatest threat to the northern environment, and impacts from upstream water withdrawals and regulation will certainly be compounded by the effects of climate change in the… Mackenzie River Basin. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Arctic is expected to experience some of the earliest and most profound climate-induced changes, and northern river basins such as the Mackenzie are particularly sensitive to these changes. Recent evidence shows that the Mackenzie River Basin is getting warmer, and that the Mackenzie Delta region has experienced some of the greatest increases in air temperatures in Canada during the last century (an increase of 1.7⁰C).

There is also the Mackenzie watershed information page that states:

Climate change will continue to impact the Mackenzie’s fragile ecosystem – a region that has already experienced an average temperature increase of 1.7°C over the past century, which is more than anywhere else in Canada.


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